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GLF: The Presidents' Strategic Forum

At the 17th edition of the Global Lodging Forum, five presidents and CEOs from major hotel groups shared their points of view regarding current changes on the sector and the challenges that lie ahead. Discover key moments in the debate.

Christophe Alaux, CEO Vacalians Group

"Consolidation is underway: brands have been emerging for 4-5 years and digital platforms have not yet penetrated the market. Few campgrounds are under development; growth will very likely be double-digit in the years to come. Ours is a leisure product that has not yet faced what the hotel industry has known in the last ten years. We are also the future: this product is very much in line with the social and societal aspirations of the moment. The role of groups that are on the move is to show the way to consolidate the market and bring a different customer value with respect to what the proliferation of independent offers is bringing."

"In order to improve the customer experience, it is necessary to guarantee that there is benevolence between guests and staff. In this light, we develop activities and places in order to create "moments that matter." Customers gradually enter the experiment. There will be offers, but people will also be able to organize things on their own. Digital is what connects thousands of people."

Sébastien Bazin, PDG AccorHotels

"It is a mistake to bank on size alone. It is also necessary to count on employees, products, brand and not lose majority market shares at a destination. Don't fear Chinese hotel operators. They will grow bigger; it is up to us to become better. Change in the hotel industry stands major chances of focusing on products related to new technologies. It is necessary to give employees the tools necessary to encourage their interaction with customers. At AccorHotels, in addition to hotel operator and investor, we wish to attract a clientele that will come to us for the variety of services we offer and to open up to potential local clientele. According to Joseph Pine, in order to understand the challenges of our industry it is necessary to look back five years at what people wanted: well invested money. Today, clients also wish to to invest their time well." 

"No one has a problem with the new players. The problem is that the political world does not implement the decisions that have been taken. It is to be hoped that by listening to everyone we will hear some of the voices."

Puneet Chhatwal, CEO Deutsche Hospitality

"Our goal is to offer hotels with a distinctly German culture. The internationalization of products, cultures and behavior is part of a trend. As generations change, demand evolves. Our group was very segmented and traditional and was missing a modern segment to meet this demand, whence the creation of Jaz in the City. We have just opened our first InterCity in China in Qingdao and signed a joint-venture with a Chinese partner. We see China and India as the key emerging markets for Europe. Our brands must be represented there. Differentiation is the key to success."

"AirBnB is not really a threat in Germany. Regulations are very strict there. The real threat comes from B&B in Germany; it is developing very quickly and efficiently. We have invested a great deal in the last three years, but undoubtedly not enough in people. Passion drives our industry; it is necessary to conserve this element and perfect it by offering continuous training. Corporate culture and its employees make the corporation."

Fabrice Collet, Founder B&B Hotels

"China is not among our ambitions for growth. The real question is: How will we capture Chinese tourists who come to our European markets? This clientele is growing and we must adapt to it from a touristic point of view. Do we need to go to China right now? No. Do we need to do something in order to welcome Chinese clientele in Europe? This needs to be examined. Will we have Chinese shareholders? This question concerns everyone."

"B&B is positioned on the economy segment. Much of our clientele travel for professional reasons and stay a night. They are looking for a good price. On this segment the brand remains an asset compared to other segments. It is necessary to make a promise and be sincere. We have realized that some of our hotels were beneath the standards we were positioning ourselves on; today we are trying to improve our range in order to keep our promise; in France we invested 100 million euros – which is a lot for a small business like ours."

Jean Bernard Falco, Founder Paris INN Group

"We created the concept of the five-star boutique design hotel à la française. We need to use our assets, new technology and offer customers what they want before they can even ask. It is also necessary to be able to tell a story. We must rely on French expertise and experience which is well-known, especially by the Chinese, for selling it internationally."

"French hoteliers are not against the arrival of new players in the industry. The problem is that they don't always follow the rules. At some point or another, customers want an experience. Behind the word experience, is the word competition in general. The question arises: why do digital players offer prices 50% lower than in the hotels? in reality, it is because they do not play by the rules. The actors must hold a respectable societal and social position. It is up to the actors themselves to say they must play by the rules. The law is the same for everyone. Unfortunately, in this country it is possible to not respect the laws and not be sanctioned. But things are changing."

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